The first MUSA Forum, summarised just for you!

Do you still remember the promises made by MUSA 2017 back in 2016, during their elections? They stuffed themselves with promises and one of them was to hold a forum to engage with the student population. Talk isn’t cheap here as the first ever MUSA forum was indeed held on the 12th of April 2017 at the foyer. The forum was a great way of gaining feedback and suggestions from the students, to be channelled to the university management for further actions.

The forum was attended by majority of the MUSA members, several sub-committee members, students as well as our very own Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew Walker. The forum started off with an opening speech by Professor Andrew. Following that, Janesh Nathan, our MUSA president took over by updating us students on the current as well as future developments which will take place on campus.

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Prof. Andrew Walker giving his opening speech.

Developments in the past 4 months included a collaboration with Radio Monash to hold a session where the students were informed of the ongoing activities. The first session has already been completed. In regards to an increased subsidy for competitions and conferences, more than 300 students have benefited through this, to date. Another successful initiative is the allocation for more PASS sessions to be held for each school and all the seven school representatives have managed to come through in the process of enhancing the students’ learning progress.

For all the shopaholics of Monash, brace yourselves as the official Monash University Malaysia’s merchandise will commence soon. Implementation of TEDx Monash was also one of the promises made by MUSA 2017 and as promised, it is currently in its initial stage run. The next step is to hunt for the licence. There have also been new food outlets this semester at the new cafeteria, which is probably our current favourite spot on campus.

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The empty seats were filled up later on, we swear!

In our favour, the request for more tutorial rooms to be opened during Weeks 11, 12 and Swot Vac as well as the increased demand of having lectures recorded or streamed live, for students across all seven schools, have already been brought to the higher-level committee members’ attention. The Vice President of MUSA, who is also the Representative for the Campus Education Committee, tells us that Professor Andrew has reported that this already being implemented, starting with the bigger lectures.

The maintenance of sports facilities is also currently on-going and indoor cricket is now allowed at the futsal court. However, the response in regards to MUSA’s proposal to allow Monashians to play outdoor cricket at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus is still pending. Fortunately, Monash has already received an approval which allows us to utilize Sunway University’s field for football practice as our field isn’t big enough. Our artificial field will only undergo upgrades in Mid-2018 as part of the campus masterplan.

It’s already 2017 but the insufficient parking issue is still at large. The President assured us that this matter will be solved soon. Based on the masterplan, the free parking area will soon be converted into a multi-storey carpark. However, it will only be completed in due time. The President has also mentioned that the water dispenser issues are currently being addressed.

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Mr. President doing what he does best – speaking for long periods of time.

Fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, we are about to expose the most exciting development of all. In conjunction with the Health and Wellness Week, MUSA has sent in a proposal to allow puppies to be brought onto campus. The collaboration with SPCA is still under consideration. Well, we could totally get used to this. Yay for puppies and “doggos”.

Moving onto the Q&A session, students were bribed to ask questions who asked questions and/or offered suggestions were given free Subway cookies. Us sub-committee members believe that most of them braved themselves in front of the mic (and the cameras) mainly for the cookie. Well, we can’t really blame them as the forum was held during teatime, and being Malaysians normal human beings, we love food as much as we do with free stuff.

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Earning his subway cookie!

This basically meant that there were a lot of questions from the student body. The key issues that students have brought up are their concerns about the availability of tutorial rooms, the seat hogging as well as laptop loaning services discontinuation issue (which will be clarified in another article), the WIFI at Monash, clarification on the disappearance of food trucks from two years ago, the carpark issues and the limited areas for students to study on campus.

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As you can see, the welfare officers are very passionate about the welfare of students.

Some also brought up the issue of cyberbullying through the Monash Confessions page on Facebook and what we can do about racism in Monash. A student had even suggested the idea of starting the semester a week earlier, in order to have 2 mid semester breaks instead of one! This writer is all for that idea, you’ve got my support 100% Ian!

First off, regarding the tutorial rooms, a student asked for the allocation of students’ usage not to just be during the final weeks of the semester, but during the mid-semester break as well. Janesh thought that it can be done after further confirmation. Another student had also questioned the cleanliness of the tutorial rooms and lecture halls throughout the semester. This led to the following question on whether there are rats on campus, as a few students have claimed to see them in Audi 2.

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Live AmA session with MUSA.

Regarding the seat hogging issue, a solution proposed was to allocate lockers, free of charge, in the library. This is because many students leave their belongings to grab a quick meal as it can be bothersome to carry heavy books and laptops back and forth to the library. Janesh’s personal comment was that the main motive behind seat hogging is more of the assurance of having a seat for the respective seat hoggers (Yes, we know that’s probably not a real word) once they come back to the library rather than the trouble it causes them to carry their things around. Ultimately, Janesh said that we should treat others how we want to be treated, so don’t hog seats guys!

Another common issue, which results in majority of our frustration, is the Wi-Fi.  This issue has many root causes. However, should students have any issues with the Wi-Fi, just fill in a simple Wi-Fi complaint form. The link can be obtained from your respective school representatives. It will automatically be forwarded to the ITS department, as they won’t be able to offer assistance through mere verbal complaints. “So the more you submit, the more data they have, the more action they can take on it,” said the School of Engineering Rep of MUSA 2016, at the forum, having addressed this issue last year.

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Ayy thats me speaking about WiFi!

With regards to the food supply issue, a question was raised on the availability of food trucks which were allowed in campus two years ago. Janesh addressed this issue saying the food trucks operating back then lacked the licence needed to operate legally. However, MUSA is trying their best to bring in food trucks, with licences, from Kuala Lumpur. As the prices of food are slightly overpriced at the new cafeteria, Janesh said that should there be new options of food introduced, the prices would have to be reasonable and with appropriate portions. A student had also asked for the prices of food in the cafeteria to be made known as she was charged a different price each time she made a purchase.

Regarding the carpark issue, one of our Editors had asked for the Monash parking stickers to be brought back as there are Sunway students as well as Sunway Medical Centre staff, taking up the parking lots at the free carpark area. This is an inconvenience as it decreases the availability of parking space for us. The President has also proposed to have more sheltered carparks. Fortunately, for some students, drivers/parents are now allowed to enter campus for pick up but only when it’s raining. However, they should only enter when students are ready to go, to avoid traffic build up. A student has also asked if it’s possible to have a zebra crossing from the BRT carpark to Uni, despite having the overhead bridge, as many students would still prefer to just cross the road instead of going up and coming back down.

Another Editor has also proposed the question as to how MUSA plans to overcome cyberbullying through the Monash Confessions page. Janesh has recommended that “we raise awareness that we have equal opportunities, different but equal and that cyberbullying should be something we’re not advocating.” In regards to racism in Monash, a concern raised by a student, Janesh tells us to send him an email about it. He also promises that he would bring it up to the admins, should it involve “racist TITAS lecturers,” where just filling up forms isn’t enough.

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One of the last key issues mentioned in the forum is the lack of availability of areas for students to study. Janesh has reported that, tentatively, there will soon be another two extra levels of the library, as well as a double storey bridge, that students will be able to utilize. A student has also questioned why the area outside the library can’t be opened until 12am on a weekly basis as well. The School of Engineering Rep for 2017 then helped clarify that this student meant the two rooms outside the library, near ITS.  Janesh responded by promising to bring it up to the admins.

Other concerns brought up by the students were what MUSA plans to do to counter the computer labs’ timetabling inaccuracy, if the Sunway library membership period could be extended, the preposition of a pigeon hole outside each lecturers’ room, the reason behind the missing gym barbells, what happened to the CIMB ATMs, why there wasn’t a formal notice on the resignation of the Activities Chairperson, the lack of recreational spaces on campus, if we could have an overhead bridge connecting the cafeteria and the library, and if a quota would be imposed on the number of students Monash takes in, in the future. In regards to the latter, Janesh assures us that “If students meet the entry requirements and are projected to get good grades, the university will not reject them.”

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The entire forum was live streamed, and the Publicity Officers biceps increased in size.

Janesh had also released information regarding some of the past as well as future events to be held. Past events such as the KL Tour and Teh Tarik with MUISS as well as the Monash Cultural Night which will be held on the 7th of May. These activities are all conducted by MUISS.

MUSA’s school reps have also done a great job planning the various movie nights, finance seminars, dodgeball competitions, Buddy-Buddee Night, LIMA, bazaars and many other activities. There will also be more bazaars to come in Weeks 8 & 9. He also mentioned that Mingle Night, held in the first Week of the semester itself, was a big achievement. In regards to the raves music festivals we’ve had, the President assures us that MUSA may want to keep up with the large scale festivals, but only in Semester 2. Janesh garnered much laughter from the student body when he jokingly said, “Go home, eh, go big or go home.”

He then mentioned that this semester’s Orientation Bash was one of the best OBs that they’ve ever had. For further updates, do refer to their Facebook page. With regards to the Facebook page, they had started the year with 7,000/8,000 likes and had broken the 10,000th mark as of today, which he thinks that itself is a very good achievement .

With regards to the Editorial team (that’s us), the President had said that “they’ve covered almost every event on campus and their viewership for MUSA Monga has shot up through the roof almost four times compared to previous years. I think that itself is a very big achievement for MUSA.” Thank you to those who have been following up with MUSA Monga’s updates!

The session was then concluded with a give away session. Yes, that’s right! Everyone who had attended the forum was given a free Subway cookie! Yay. Bet you wished you attended it now eh? Anyway, thanks for reading and have a productive mid-semester break everyone!

Words by Stephanie Leng and Hemala Kanagarethinam

Photos by Andrew Peter Lim, Samuel Goh, & Terence Kong

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